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When you need to find a new school fast

There are many reasons that drive the need to find a new school for your child immediately. You might be dissatisfied with your current school, your personal or financial circumstances may have changed, or you could simply be relocating.

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The important thing to keep in mind is that the sooner you start to investigate your alternatives, the better.

In order to make an informed decision, there are a few first steps to take. These include the following:

1. Determine which schools have vacancies

This can be the hardest part for parents. How do you know which schools actually have a vacancy? Is there a waitlist? Are there fees for reserving a place?

Until recently your only option was to make countless phone calls, leave messages and wait patiently for a call back and then pay application fees to be placed on a waitlist with no indication of whether it’s likely you’ll get in or not. Such a time consuming and frustrating process that busy, working parents find difficult to juggle with the myriad other family commitments occurring at the same time.

This was the experience of Danny from Melbourne, who, along with other members of his family was looking for a new school for his nephew.

“We were looking for a secondary school and were calling around, but couldn’t find anything that was available immediately”, he says. “We were all chasing schools.”

Eventually he looked online and found School Places.

“The process is very easy. The school’s coordinator responded quickly and made an appointment with us immediately. It was done within the day.”

After applying for a vacancy online, the standard enrolment process follows. This includes an inspection of the school grounds, interviews and testing. It is up to you to decide if the school is the right fit for your family before formally accepting the spot.

2. Do your research

Make sure you look at the school’s website, read their annual report and speak to family and friends if possible about their own experiences with the school.

Booking a school tour is by far the best way to speak to the principal, experience the grounds, facilities and atmosphere of a school, and to make sure it’s the right fit for your child and your family as a whole. If you have the time, arrive at the front gates a few minutes before the school day is out to speak with parents already enrolled.

While academic results aren’t the only reason parents choose a school, sites like MySchool can give you an insight into a school’s performance.

3. Leave on a good note

Ensure that you look into notice periods and penalty fees for withdrawal from your current school so you can give appropriate notice. Most schools require a terms’ notice.

Return all necessary equipment and obtain your child’s school records. Also be sure to investigate returning or selling second hand uniforms and other equipment, which might help compensate for the cost of items at your new school.

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